Rating: 4 / 5
Timberland is not the first brand that comes to mind when one thinks of lightweight trekking footwear, but their recent aquisition of GoLite is starting to yield some interesting results. First was the Delerion Pro, and now comes the Cadion boot with GoreTex XCR.
Mentioned briefly in a recent BPL article and recommended to me by a Timberland employee, the Cadions are a chimera of materials: Supple leather tongue, a GoreTex XCR lining, and rubber edging between the Vibram soles and the Schoeller Keprotek upper. This combination adds up to a heavy-duty boot that weighs 2.25 pounds per pair.
The build is solid with good support and a stiff sole. These boots are also notable for being built around a narrow last, which impacts the width across the ankles, arch and the toebox. The tongue gusset goes all the way to the top of the boot to reject dirt and debris. The sidewalls of the upper are very thick and provide decent ankle support. The lacing system isn't a fast one but it's solid, using clamp-style hooks to keep things in place. The eyestay leather is angled across the toe so that it doesn't dig into the metatarsals, a nice design touch. The GoreTex XCR lining is sewn in almost like a bootie, covering every millimeter of the boot's interior and having almost no seams.
All this adds up to an incredibly light full-fledged boot for such an intense set of functionality. It is pretty solidly waterproof, even through the breathable Schoeller upper, for anything short of a river crossing.
But there's always room for improvement.
This is not a warm-weather shoe; its warmth is wonderful when you need it but in warmer climates it's overkill. The thick sidewalls are wonderful if you lace the boot loosely; lacing too tight creates both above-the-ankle rubbing and heel blisters on my size EURO 42/US 8.5 feet. The Vibram soles could use more aggressive backwards-facing lugs for downhill grip, and the instep and arch are not lugged, so watch out on those wet logs...
All in all, the Timberland Cadions fit my particular needs: hiking in Northern California's mild but wet winters, off-season trekking over talus and other terrain that can bruise feet in sneakers, and snowshoeing. It works wonders for such uses. For those who want to go light but still need or want the support (physical or mental) of boots over trailrunners, it's a solid choice. For warmer weather wet backpacking, a quick-drying trailrunner is still probably a superior option.
It also shows how every outdoor manufacturer, even Patagonia and The North Face, has one or two hidden gems that are highly technical and functional amongst the fashion-first chaff of the rest of their catalogs.